Two Years On And It’s Still Crap

Continuing in our series of Migrant Stories: first hand accounts of migrant life in New Zealand, taken from locations around the net. It is a fairly common story telling of how skilled migrants are made to feel that their skills are inadequate in New Zealand and of how ‘the Lifestyle’ didn’t deliver.

This post is taken from a British migrant emigration  forum.

2 Years on and it’s still crap

“Can’t afford it.
Don’t like it.
Kids hate it.
both work full time just to pay bills.
Cant afford price to get out of here.
nuff said….The wife hates it. as you know the system over here sucks, she feels like she cant do her job in the hospital and is just left to clean up after the lmc’s. She is looked down on by the maori folk even she is trying to help deliver a baby she is still looked on as a 3rd class citizen. The wage for a rm is pants, and if she were to go lmc she would be putting her life on call 24/7… which wouldnt work as we have two kids.
I do days she does nights, we meet in a carpark in the mornings where the kids get out of my car and into hers she then takes them to school then bed. I come home she gets up and goes to work….
I know there are people in this world worse off than us but all we want is a little bit of a life…”

41 thoughts on “Two Years On And It’s Still Crap

  1. 4 years on -it’s still pretty crap.
    Slightly better than before but yeah -kids miss home -schools of a poor standard,both of os work full time to make ends meet ( drafty sub-standard housing).
    -yeah cos you can really live on that…..
    Sense of humour-nul and void-banter -laugh (forget that)-and I have family here!!!!!
    My advice -think long and hard… old friends are gold….

    • Been here 20 years, still don’t like it. Sorry if that disillusions you. We just had to tough it out, or go home, which I really didn’t want to do. Things do get better eventually.

  2. Myself and my husband have been here for 18 months (we subsequently had a baby a few months after we arrived). We absolutely hate the place. We certainly came over here wearing rose tinted glasses believing we was making a great move for a better work life balance and outdoors lifestyle. We was so wrong and had a major reality check we discovered it wasnt the case. We have been trying in vain to buy a house here for 18 months as renting here is draining us dry. Which is half of my husbands wage each week so we have been reluctantly been looking at buying. Not what we want to do in all honesty but the landlords are so greedy here. We’ve been to hundreds (no exaggeration) of open homes to look at to buy. The whole experience is absolutely farcical and infuriating. Hoards upon hoards of people turning up to view the same house and everyone putting tenders in $100-150k sometimes even moreover the value. This just pushes the prices up and preventing others from getting on the ladder. The agents tell everyone to max out their offers. Its a greedy little country. I wouldnt mind but these houses are down right terrible. Glorified sheds at best. No proper insulation or heating and require serious updating and structural works which would set you back thousands to rectify. For example, a house (if you can call it that) which was barely still standing. I think the mould was just about holding it together, sold for $650K last week! Its complete madness.

    As for the outdoors lifestyle. Its a complete myth. We live in Wellington and even on a summers day there are cold biting gale force winds. Forget trying to have a picnic on the beach. To be fair, you do get a tiny handful of moderately good days with calm and mild breezes but they are literally few and far between. As the saying goes here “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day”. Yes that is that is quite true as a good day rarely happens. On reflection, we actually spent more time outdoors enjoying the summer back in the UK than we have done here in this hole of a city.

    The winters here are harsh and bleak and LONG. We rarely get snow but you get blasted by icy gale force winds which chill you to your bones. It never stops raining. Then you return to your cold damp and drafty house. You plug in your fan heater or electric radiator which drills your already overpriced bills. The kiwis always say “oh just layer up”. We have literally cooked and ate dinner in our thick winter coats and scarves. Just what you want to do after a long day at work. A home should be your nice relaxing haven. Not a freezing cold damp shed.

    My husband is a fully qualifed and licenced plumber and works his fingers to the bones for an abismal wage. He is overworked and under paid There is no such thing as paid overtime here. You work overtime and you just your standard hourly rate. No time and half etc.

    The kiwis are just igorant and arrogant. They have no courtesy to others like helping the eldery or mums struggling with prams with the doors or onto buses and they will bump into you nearly knocking you off your feet without an acknowledgement or apology. They have no manners and very few social skills. Ive lost count the amount of times Ive tried to engage in friendly conversation with the kiwis in the post office or supermarket queue only to be looked at as if I had five heads. I feel so lonely over here too. Ive joined groups and classes to try and make friends but the kiwis are so cliquey. For example, i was at the park the other day with my daughter and I tried to make conversation with a group of kiwi mums and again they all just looked at me strange and turned their backs on me. I was at such a low ebb, I just sat alone and cried into my hands. Not one of them came over. They just stared at me. It happened again at a mothers and baby group. I’ve always been an outgoing and friendly person but I feel myself slowly sinking into a deep depression. The only friends we have made are ex pats but we dont get to see much of them as they are also working ever hour god sends – so there is no work/ life balance here. Everyone is grafting away to keep their heads above water. I recently went back to the UK for a brief visit to see a sick relative and one day I was in the supermarket and the amount of complete strangers who smiled and nodded and spoke to me in the queue just overwhelmed me and moved me to tears. It just doesnt happen here.

    We rarely get any family together as my husband is working ever hour god sends and on the rare occasions we do get family time he is shattered and the weather is horendous so we are just stuck indoors with our coats on freezing cold.

    The food is terrible here. We no longer waste our money going out for meals and on takeaways as we always end up dissapointed and out of pocket. They just dont know how to cook flavoursome food.

    The supermarkets have very limited choice or value too.

    In summary, the only good thing about NZ is the scenery and as everyone else has said the novelty soon wears off.

    We are just holding out until we get our kiwi citizenship and we wake up from this nightmare and we can jump the ditch and move back to Australia where we lived a few years ago. The wages, the climate, the property and the people are so much better than NZ.

    Sorry for the novel! But I could go on forever on how much NZ sucks. Dont believe in the hype!

    • I think the world is hearing more about the other side of New Zealand. The police investigate 100,000 cases of domestic abuse a year. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. The Auckland property market. These have all been major international news stories in the last couple of weeks.

    • ” The kiwis are just igorant and arrogant. They have no courtesy to others like helping the eldery or mums struggling with prams with the doors or onto buses and they will bump into you nearly knocking you off your feet without an acknowledgement or apology. They have no manners and very few social skills. Ive lost count the amount of times Ive tried to engage in friendly conversation with the kiwis in the post office or supermarket queue only to be looked at as if I had five heads. ”

      Thank you for sharing this ! I seriously was thinking that I was only one to notice this. That and what you said is correct, they are all like this in New Zealand and reason why (mods please feel free to go ahead and delete this post if you feel this is going to offend people), please pardon my language, is this “… got to be a cunt cause can’t let them think I’m pussy” mentality. People here honestly see general manners and human decency as weakness, with the worse thing being that the more you display these sort of behaviours to someone then ironically the worse that they will treat you, as all you’re really doing when you’re being kind to someone here in NZ is putting them in position of strength that makes them feel they can treat you how they like. NZ as place is really sycophantic like that. The people here are psychotic. It’s crazy .. :-S

  3. There is this new effort to point the finger at drivers from overseas coming to NZ and causing accidents. This is just recent. If drivers from overseas are having such a problem with driving in NZ, what does that say about NZ roads, signage, road markings…? I have a hard time believing that the problem is all with overseas drivers, but that is the way that the blame is being directed.

  4. Yeah nz is just rubbish. Spent 2 years in Wellington and Auckland and came back to UK. The pay is crap, bills are expensive. There is no good in emigrating there at all. Forget buying a house, they are all badly built overpriced by about 200%. UK is only marginally better but heading to nz to start afresh is a bad idea and you will soon realise a reality check is a good idea. All the posts on here are true, nz just outright sucks. I’ve lived in Aussie too and it is light years superior to nz. The only problem is you got to watch for creepy crawlies all the time and the summer heat blows your ribs off, but it outshines nz by a large margin as far as pay and standards of living.
    Nah, I’m sorry nz just is a nomans land and wait till you see the crap you have to go through for visas. Wisest thing you ever do is steer well clear.
    They drive like maniacs, the national pastime is smoking, they have lots of social problems, gangs, unemployment, drugs, bent cops etc. It rains constantly during winter. It is worth hacking the harsh UK winters overall rather than emigrating to nz. Its just a pity the scenery is so gorgeous when you get to see it but the novelty soon wears off.
    Dubai is the best place I’ve lived, you will find it hard to beat but you can’t get residency there which is a bummer. Most just cross the borders and renew their work permits that way. You need a good company behind you.

    • I agree with you. Yes there is more sunshine in NZ than UK, but it rains far more here in NZ during winter than UK, also the winds in NZ are ridiculously strong compared to UK. The scenery in NZ is great, but no more beautiful than UK or elsewhere in the world. Definitely, the scenery of NZ soon wears off on you. The drivers in NZ are downright dangerous, you have to drive defensively all the time in NZ . I have been to Australia before & i agree NZ is Australia’s poorer cousin.

  5. Yes New Zealand schools do have an appallingly poor level of security which is a shame considering so many NZ high school kids carry knives, even the girls aren’t adverse to using a blade. Schools often cite a lack of resources as one of the reasons for not beefing up security. That’s a bit hard on the hundreds of teachers that get assaulted in their classrooms, and the handful that are seriously injured and killed (Lois Dear).

    That may explain why school invasions are so commonplace, though schools are very adept at keeping bad news out of the papers and threatening students with expulsion if they speak to the media. Despite that, some violence at school stories do still manage to slip out into the public domain – mostly because concerned parents want something done and aren’t content to let these incidents be swept under the rug.

    We have pages of school violence and school invasion stories, you can read about some of them here

    See also:

    Bishop Viard College: Second Attack In A School This Week (Sept 2009) –

    “The New Zealand Herald is this morning reporting another violent invasion of a school – Bishop Viard School in Porirua.

    It’s too early to say whether this is a copycat of Tuesday’s invasion of Lynfield College, or whether it’s a manifestation of the rising violence in New Zealand’s schools. It comes just weeks after a massive brawl at an Auckland Grammar School v. Kelston Boys rugby match in which up to to 100 students and drunken spectators took part…”

    North Shore school security guard mugged, shot in face (April 2010)

    “An after hours security guard at Onepoto Primary School in the affluent suburb of North Shore, Auckland was shot in a the face after he was attacked by a teenager demanding money on Friday evening. Despite the guards protestations that he had no cash on him the young thug shot him four times in the face and arms with an airgun…”

    But hey, if you’re not into reading papers and still believe that NZ has a free press, you’d miss even the few that make it into the public domain. Ever considered home schooling? – VERY popular in NZ.

  6. Thanks for the encouragement. We have managed to sell our house and buy one in Australia. So another few months until settlement and then we are out of here. It feels like a light at the end of the tunnel is emerging. I just have to pace myself to get through until then. I know it’s the right decision for us. Life is too short to try and make a square peg fit into a round hole.

    • Well done disappointed, I’ve been here 7 years ago and can’t wait to get out. What you’re feeling and what you’ve experienced are sadly too common. This country is like an orphaned child, lost confused and deeply sad. Good luck to you and your family.

  7. I have also been in New Zealand for just over 2 years and I also hate it. We moved here from London with 2 children to get out of the rat race and find a better quality of life. Unfortunately, I have not found it to be a better quality and rather a significant degradation. We live in Queenstown which is beautiful. There is no traffic and we feel safe. We go skiing in Winter. But that is about the end of the list of pro’s. The list of con’s is unfortunately quite a bit longer. The biggest for me is the sense of isolation and loneliness. The people are not very friendly. I never realized how unfriendly and unhappy New Zealanders could be. The only friends I have made are other expats. But I really miss the friends we had in London. I definitely think the quality of friendships that I have left trump any that are on offer in New Zealand. People are just so insular, judgmental or downright strange. I have started thinking the problem is me but all I can hold onto is that I have managed to make many great friends over my lifetime in other countries. There is a severe lack of opportunities in New Zealand. Any previous work experience is not valued here. I am a well qualified professional with great interpersonal skills but since moving to New Zealand I have come to doubt myself and have little confidence after a number of run ins with locals. The tall-poppy syndrome is alive and well here. We are financially well off and were happy, contented people before we moved here. But the culture here is very petty and close minded. Somehow everyone is cut down to size. I have become very depressed over the last 2 years. The impact on my mental health has been very difficult. I want to get out but given that I am so down, am overwhelmed by the idea of a big move again. Even though I know it needs to be done to save myself. We always had big concerns about moving here and were very naïve when we thought lets just give it a go and if it doesn’t work out we can leave. We underestimated how debilitating the process of it not working out would be. I really wish we had never come here. There is 2 years of my life I will never get back and who knows how much longer while we remain in this ‘stuck’ state. I became aware of this website over a year ago but pushed it away. I didn’t want to believe all the negativity. I am normally a positive person and believe you make your own luck. But I am afraid that I am in agreement . If someone reads this it may help them not to make the same mistake we did. I can’t wait to get out of this god forsaken place.

    • Thank you Disappointed.

      The feedback that we get from our readers is that they feel an incredible sense of relief when they finally leave New Zealand.

      It can seem like a daunting task when one is already feeling drained by living there. However, a lot of people say they find making the first steps towards leaving an empowering experience and start to feel in control of their lives again. You’ve made the right decision to leave.

      • Just talked to my daughter who left NZ a week ago with her family. She is now in Australia and says they feel as if a great weight has been lifted off them and they feel alive again. Sad isn’t it as NZ is such a beautiful country. Just cannot put my finger on what’s wrong here.

      • Yes, Disappointed, there were so many people on anti-depressants in New Zealand for a reason. We, too, felt the psychological weight of the remoteness, the burden of penury and unpleasantness of frighteningly simple-minded money-oriented people with fake smiles always pegged on their mugs who told us that we were the money-oriented ones because we were American. Guess what – when you don’t have enough, like them, it’s a primary motivator for almost everything you do. Stealth survival mode. We managed to leave finally after a number of years after being slowly drained of everything we had. We eliminated many of our belongings to strip down our leaving costs, and borrowed the money to leave. After a couple of years “out”, we are in the position of starting to recoup our leaving expenses. Our losses we will never recoup. The longer you wait, the worse this situation will become. You will become more and more of a husk. Please consider leaving before you are no longer physically or emotionally able to. We were at the end of our rope (felt like we were a few years past it, in fact) and were lucky to have had that space on our credit card. Life was hard for awhile as we paid this off. But I cannot describe the relief of being out of there. It was as if ton of weight that had been chained to our backs was magically lifted, just in the leaving. New Zealand was not for us in many, many ways. The juice you need for living is within reach, if you’ll just strip down, borrow and jump.

    • Hi Disappointed, we also moved to NZ from UK 4 years ago. I was unsure about moving to NZ after reading sites such as this in the UK, but my wife convinced me to emigrate anyway. Yes, I also hate New Zealand & have never liked living here. My own experience of New Zealanders is that they are very superficial
      often unfriendly or downright rude! New Zealanders will smile and be friendly to you, but my experience has been that they either only want to sell you something or exploit you in some way especially if they know you are a new arrival to NZ. The nicest people I have met in NZ have been from other countries, such as India or USA or elsewhere in the world. New Zealanders are very xenophobic & often verbally aggressive & attack Australians, Americans & British people or people from China & Asia in their news media & news papers. They are very good at luring people to emigrate to NZ, but once you arrive you realize that this is just
      a big con act, as no matter how well qualified you are they will always be prejudiced against you for not being a born New Zealander! New Zealand is an isolated & backward country & that results in the vast majority of New Zealanders (even the so called professional classes) in also being narrow minded and backward in their world views. The only places worth visiting or
      living are Auckland & Wellington, the rest of NZ is small run down country towns populated by zombified examples of humanity. New Zealand is very pretty in places, but trust me the people are not as nice as you might have thought! My wife appears to be changing her opinion about NZ so hopefully we will not be here for too much longer! Emigrate to Australia, Spain, France or Canada as New Zealand just isn’t worth it!!

  8. GrossDomesticProduct per capita (person) in NZ is just over 50% of that what a person in e.g. Switzerland generates for the economy. But costs for living and especially for the wooden -often rotten- tents with single glass windows and poor installation what they call houses are the same or even higher.
    Funny to me also when you read in the NZ-Immigration Skilled Worker section “was your work experience gained in a comparable labor market” which includes most of the EU countries and Switzerland I was close to answering NO because if asking the same question immigrants from NZ in Switzerland or Germany I would not include NZ as a comparable labor market. Life here is OK if you are healthy and not likely to become ill, if you are financially independent and if you still can go “home” on short notice. Otherwise you better stay away.

  9. Been here 10 years(from UK).We have a great lifestyle skiing 30 days or in the winter and mountain bike most of the year.Kids are happy at work and uni.Didn’t move here for the culture/history(or lack thereof) so that’s not a problem.Wouldn’t consider living back in the UK or even going to Oz even after the last 18 months here in Christchurch.
    Still I regard us as being lucky and there is a problem with NZ having a low wage,long hour economy set against expensive housing and a cost of living that has far outstripped pay rises in the last few years.Of course NZ isnt clean,green or 100%pure but it’s my home and I love it.

    • you need to remove that silver spoon from your mouth, you are not making any sense (no money to live, but plenty to waste on overpriced ski passes?)

  10. Janet, its 4,435,900, not 3 million and a living wage wouldn’t be too much of an ask would it? Smaller countries than NZ seem to manage ok.

    Did you know that there are restrictions placed on New Zealand’s media with regards to reporting crime? its remarkable and a credit to some journalists that anything gets published, but we’ve yet to see a fart story thank goodness.

  11. Seriously….. its a small country, what more could you possibly expect with a population of 3 million, a job that pays 200-300k easy and luxury? hahah!! Of course you are going to hear on the news stories of gangs, domestic violence… geee all someone has to do is fart and it is reported in the local newspaper. In the UK a lot of those stories like that dont even make it in the newspaper because it happens so frequently.

  12. The 2011 New Zealand Workplace Violence Survey aimed to find out the incidence and nature of workplace violence and identify sectors affected.
    Study co-author Dr Bevan Catley, of the Healthy Work Group in the School of Management, said the incidence rate for all violence cases, of 32.3 per 1000 employees, was very high compared to rates reported by researchers in North America and Europe.


    Who won’t be surprised to learn this?
    “Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of the children had been the victims of physical violence at some stage in their lives, and 53 per cent had suffered it in the year of the survey, compared with overseas rates of 50 per cent in the US and Italy and 33 per cent in Britain”.

    When we came to New Zealand, we were shocked to see people fighting so openly on the street. We were not here long before my children witnessed a blood-covered man on the bonnet and windshield of a vehicle that was careening down High St of a dingy Far North small city (high street was more than an accurate description, too!) you couldn’t go anywhere without smelling burning skunk!. We would see people by the side of the road sorting out their differences as we drove by outside the city.

    Despite how smug they are about their lack of military involvement in world affairs, it is not a peaceable society. It is in such amazing juxtaposition to the beautiful scenery, like a meth-addicted biker chick wearing a bridesmaid’s gown.

  14. Reasons why people cannot leave:
    They cannot sell their homes for what they paid for them
    They do not have the money to move – low wages in NZ and may have used up any savings trying to get by, because they could not find jobs
    They are caught in a legal battle, which may take a long time to resolve
    They have children or spouses there who do not want to leave
    They burned their bridges in some other way like moved their pension fund over from the UK and then did not fare well and cannot move it back
    Developed health problems
    and so on.

    This country markets itself as pure, family-friendly and desirous of migrant skills.

    but it is not pure

    it is not family friendly – second worst in world for bullying due to their bystander policy

    and the few jobs there are they’d rather not give to migrants

    John should shut his bluddy big gob. Until only a few years ago, negative information about New Zealand was not even available on the web, and so many came thinking it was some utopia. God bless the websites that are putting it out there!

  15. Thank you for your comments John.

    To what factors do you attribute the high numbers of New Zealanders leaving New Zealand for destinations such as Australia, USA and the UK every year? About a quarter of the country’s nationals live abroad. Its not just immigrants that have a problem with New Zealand.

    What do you say about New Zealand being actively mis-marketed to migrants, many of whom arrive to find that they can’t find work in their “skills shortage” areas of employment; or that their overseas experience and qualifications aren’t recognised by New Zealand employers, despite having met immigration and NZQA prerequisites.

  16. It seems to me that many people who choose to move countries have a reason for doing so.
    Many who return home find that they are still having to face the same difficulties that they sought to escape in the first place. This makes them doubly dissatisfied,and even more difficult to live with at work and at home.
    Nobody except you can make the decision to change countries.
    There are many ex pat Brits who have made the change and would not wish to go back to the elbow nudging shin barking underground,or the mired other problems which exist in Britain.
    Nowhere is perfect.
    If you do tour homework and look at the OECD figures you will find that many of the perceptions quoted here by those who seek to escape their past are not born out by the reality of the figures.
    If you are unhappy here then it is best for both countries that yup return.
    Nobody is holding you against your will.
    There is always a period of adjustment as you find that kiwis do in fact have a different culture.
    It is only right that you may not like aspects of it. If youdind that it does not fit with your idea of an acceptable culture then you have the right and duty to leave,just as many before you have chosen to leave England and live here.
    It’s your choice!

  17. We’ve heard many accounts of the ‘lifestyle’ failing to deliver. Invariably it turns out to be longer working hours, less job satisfaction and a hand to mouth, penny pinching existence for immigrants from many different cultures.
    And it’s interesting to see where migrants find success after NZ fails them e.g.

    As you say, a great place for a holiday (if you survive the adventure sports)

  18. I agree not a place to make money, wages shite and more tax and indirect tax than anywhere i have been. New Zealand is a beautiful place to visit and thats all, i lived there 8 years in Taupo, all the dick heads go on about is the life style, what bloody life style, shame you cant enjoy it as you are to busy working to keep your head above water

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